The winery buildings were built in 1894-1897 and have survived the upheavals from the time of the tsars through World War II and the rule of the Soviets. It was initially built to supply--and store-- wines for Tsar Nicholas II's summer palace at Yalta. Supposedly the tunnels at the winery proved the perfect temperature for wine storage and eventually Stalin ordered all wines from all the palaces brought to Massandra. During World War II, the tunnels were bricked in to preserve the wine from the Nazi invaders. Some of those rare vintages collected by the tsars, preserved by Stalin and still retaining their vitality, have made their way to wine auctions at Sotheby's, selling for thousands of dollars.
internet research seems to tell me, wine has been made in Crimea for more than 2500 years, with Greek settlers growing grapes in the rocky soil overlooking the Black Sea. But modern winemaking begins with the winery near Yalta established by Count Mikhail Vorontsov in 1820 and a viticulture institute founded soon thereafter in 1828.
campaign against alcoholism ("to health!" says the poster) in the late 1980s was disastrous for Crimean vineyards--more than 300 square miles of vineyards were destroyed. Today, however, we saw vineyards popping up all over Crimea's hills, with young vines taking root.